Tones jul by Rune Clausen

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Rune Clausen | Tones jul
Forwind (CD/DL)

Is it me, or is the experimental sound of Norway starting to permeate the other corners of the world? This latest effort from Rune Clausen may actually be his sophomore effort thanks to Berlin-based Forwind, though he’s been involved in several collaborative projects. These nine short tracks are each a bit of a snippet of his surroundings in the great outdoors. Field recordings blend well with icy electronic rhythms on the intro Kronisk Ferie. Though unsure, I guessed the title may have translated to jewel tones at first, and this manages to offer a lot of cool colored variations. Alas, the more one digs here, the more they will unveil about ‘the rough and dark fates of 19th century people.’ The term ‘Tone’ doesn’t refer directly to the cadence, but rather to the old Norwegian meaning of ‘female.’ By pairing a bass guitar with analogue synths he’s managed to develop a lab sound that is as quizzical as it is otherworldly.

Sølje is an ambient, mist-filled evening with head-bending soft drone. It’s like peering out at the horizonline at dusk where a giant freight ship is vanishing into its thinness, and this slope continues right into Myrgvarv. The bass substitutes the reverb of a foghorn on the water’s edge. The endlessly pixelated atmosphere has a deep sense of serenity, and a touch of foreboding.

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The mood intensifies on Det sorte sovekammer (the black bedroom) with a woman speaking, earnestly, as the crevasse of low hum increases and flattens on repeat. The calm before the storm, as she speaks of the tragedy of a woman dying during childbirth. As the subject matter takes this morbid turn, a visceral gurgle of Barnsnød is as dark as it growls in murmured tones. Have we reached the gates of some chained monster mystery, or is this an unexpected twist of fate, of cinéma vérité? Either way I feel certain I’ve heard such incidental brooding in a Godzilla flick or two.

On Hræzla the tones invert some, dip deeper into a cryptic place where secrets are lost to the abyss only to awake alongside a stream to bird calls and true contemplation. The end, 500 år senere (or five-hundred years later), bookending the start to this journey, creating a harmonic and conceptual balance.

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